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MedFish4Ever Awards celebrate regional innovation in fisheries and aquaculture

The GFCM High-level conference on MedFish4Ever initiatives: Transformative actions to address new challenges offered a fitting occasion to recognize outstanding new work in the Mediterranean in the fields of fishing technology and aquaculture research and in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

An awards ceremony celebrated the innovation and creativity driving the region’s fishing and aquaculture sectors forwards, with initiatives from Croatia, Cyprus, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia and the non-governmental organization Global Fishing Watch winning the MedFish4Ever awards for innovative practices in fisheries and aquaculture.

Attendees gathered for the ceremony on the first evening of the conference, which joined high-level representatives from 20 Mediterranean fishing nations with fishers, fish farmers, scientists, managers, organizations and other experts in Malta to plan a collective course towards a sustainable future.

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Many of the conference discussions focused on how innovation and technology have a critical role to play in increasing efficiency, reducing environmental impacts, boosting the productivity of aquaculture and enabling monitoring and enforcement, and winning solutions in all these areas were showcased at the MedFish4Ever Awards.

The winners will go on to present their projects at two key scientific events: the International Symposium on Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (SOFAS 2023) and the GFCM Forum on Fisheries Science in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea (Fish Forum 2024).

“It was a real pleasure to be able to give these innovative ideas the public recognition they deserve,” said GFCM Executive Secretary Miguel Bernal, who opened the ceremony. “Fishers, fish farmers, scientists and companies are key elements to provide the solutions we need for the sector, and the spirit of collaborative innovation that is being celebrated here is what we need to secure a sustainable future for all.”

The Winners

Category – Innovative practices in fishing technology

The first category called for new solutions to address existing and emerging challenges and promote the sustainability of fisheries in the Mediterranean.

  • Winner: Reinforced seine as a mitigation measure against depredation by bottlenose dolphin  – National Institute for Fisheries Research (INRH), Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development, Water and Forests, Morocco

Bottlenose dolphins frequently interact with purse seiners in Mediterranean waters, targeting the sliding nets used to encircle shoals of small pelagic fish. They cause economic losses for fishers and they put their own survival at risk, so INRH has been developing new reinforced seine gear. The twin aims are to prevent economic losses from dolphin depredation and to limit interactions between the fishery and this protected species. Fishers, scientists and marine experts have collaborated to develop the new gear, whose effectiveness – in three different prototypes – has been evaluated against traditional purse seines, with very promising results. The results of the project have the potential to be replicated and applied in similar regions facing comparable challenges across the Mediterranean and beyond, so the scalability of this innovation is essentially unlimited.

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